Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.…
I. CONTEMPLATE THE HISTORY OF THE HEBREW PEOPLE, and judge whether it deserves our respect and veneration. And first, reflect on its antiquity. Before the empire of Persia was founded, when Greece was overrun by a few barbarian hordes, and Italy was an unpeopled wilderness, the race of Abraham was chosen by the Divine Founder of all empires as one distinct and peculiar people; incorporated by an inviolable charter from the Supreme Monarch of the universe, no human power has been able, for four thousand years, to dissolve its union, or shake its stability. But if this nation is venerable, as the grand depository of historical truth and ancient wisdom, much more is it distinguished and consecrated as the chosen instrument which the Divinity has employed for the religious instruction of mankind, the guardians and witnesses of every sacred truth; the hallowed fount which, springing from the sanctuary of God, has poured forth in unceasing and abundant profusion its healing and holy waters, to purify and bless the surrounding regions of the earth. But, beyond all this, in considering the blessings derived to us and all mankind from the Jewish law and the Jewish people, we never should forget the clearness and solemnity with which the great rules of moral conduct are promulgated in the Decalogue, and the two grand principles of love to God and love to our neighbour inculcated by the Jewish law. What a powerful claim to the respect, the gratitude of every man who values virtue or reveres religion must such a people possess, if we consider them merely as the depositaries and guardian of natural theology, the preservers and teachers of moral principle; but they are connected with us by ties much closer, they possess claims on our regard far more sacred: they were the instruments employed by God to prepare for the dominion of the gospel of Christ.
II. LET US NEXT PROCEED TO ENQUIRE HOW HAVE CHRISTIANS ANSWERED ALL THESE CLAIMS, how have they repaid this debt of gratitude? Alas, almost incredible to tell, their conduct towards this chosen nation has been one almost uninterrupted series of cruelty and calumny, of oppression and persecution. I do not mean to say that such cruelty and persecution were unprovoked and gratuitous; but I contend that however great the provocation, such cruelty and persecution were unjust and criminal. Would we vindicate our holy religion from the foulest reproach that ever stained its character, we will atone for the past oppressions heaped upon this ancient though unhappy race, by straining every nerve to promote from henceforward their happiness both temporal and eternal.
III. But what, you ask, are THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES WHICH ENCOURAGE US NOW TO HOPE FOR SUCCESS in attempting the conversion of the Jews rather than at any preceding period of the world.
Parallel VersesKJV: Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.